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Morality in The Promised Neverland — Isabella (#1)

The subject of morality is never one that’s set in stone. An act that is claimed to be of a moral premise by one party could very well be seen as an immoral act by another. In this post, I aim to take a look at the many things in The Promised Neverland that have raised moral questions and tested our moral sensitivities.

Of course, some disclaimers first. This post is written entirely for fun, in an attempt to apply theories of ethics into the world of The Promised Neverland. I’ll be writing based on my limited knowledge of ethics and its various theories, as well as with the perspective of my own subjective and personal worldview. There’s really no right, wrong or absolutes! Just completely my own biased personal opinion.

*Spoilers ahead*


The world of The Promised Neverland is a rather fascinating one. Human lives have been likened to livestock, where children are reared and harvested in the seemingly peaceful and ordinary orphanages. In a world such as this, can our standards of morality truly remain the same? Can we truly be blamed for being “immoral”? What are the limits of what is right and what is wrong?

Isabella

Our moral sensitivity tested right away when the “surrogate mother” Isabella is seen willingly sending the children to their demise. Insidious isn’t it? But is she actually evil?

Banality of evil
The banality of evil defines the idea that doing evil is not necessarily an act done because one is an inherently evil person, but it could simply be the act of a dutiful servant obeying their orders. In this case, the actions of Isabella to essentially slaughter the children aren’t an act birthed from evil, but an act of subservience.

In other words, Isabella is (probably) not evil.

While Isabella may not be evil, can we say that her actions were morally justified? Per the anime, it seemed that Isabella had been so deeply scarred that her experiences had completely altered her beliefs. To Isabella, escape was impossible, and so death became an inevitability. She started believing that the best thing she could do for herself and the children was to give them the most pleasant life before sending them off to be killed. Can we truly fault her for her decisions?

Of course we can, but should we?

Understandably, her actions could be seen as being self-serving.

  • She chose to essentially live the life as someone complicit in slaughter so that she could save her own skin.
  • It was easier to blind herself from the reality where both herself and the children might’ve been able to survive.
  • Helping the children could risk her life, so she chose to let the children die so she could peacefully live on.

But personally, I believe that given her circumstances, it is morally permissible for her to act in such a way. The act of delivering the children to their deaths may be inherently bad, but her intentions were none other than to raise them well and to allow them to live merrily till their final moments. After all, she never knew there were any means for the children to escape. Perhaps after helping even just one or two of the children, when found out, she might just be killed off herself for failing to perform her duties. Maybe allowing the children to live a blissful life ignorant of their grim reality would allow more children to live happier lives.

In short, I personally believe that Isabella’s actions were not immoral. They were simply the result of circumstance.

Then again, if I were Isabella, it might have just been better to have explained things to them clearly once they found out instead of beginning her sick game of cat and mouse. Eh, perhaps she might just be evil after all.


Would you forgive Isabella? Should I continue exploring the ethics of the other characters? Or perhaps you thought I was spouting a load of crap? Well, you’re not wrong! Regardless, leave a comment to let me know!

Check out my review of the whole series HERE! As always, thank you for reading!

8 comments

  1. Not sure what happened to my original comment (unless you reposted this without my noticing so that conversation got deleted), but my response to it was “Ha! You’re fine, dude. I wasn’t really expecting you were trying to make that case. Just posing a counter-argument from a pure storytelling perspective. That and I’ve finished the manga, so I know the conclusions they ultimately come to with her and the kids. This kind of post is really fun! I did one – a video anyway – a while ago comparing TPN’s farms to the education system, even though I’m fairly certain it wasn’t intended to be compared to that at all. Like you said, this kind of thing’s just fun ^^”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Haha I see I guess I just misunderstood you :p I didn’t know the manga finished! I stopped quite awhile ago. Now I can’t wait to finish it up!

      Yup, its really fun to write about anything in anime. And yes, you made a great counter-argument. I wouldn’t know anything about storytelling, but I definitely see your point.

      Comparing farms to our education system? Now that sounds like a worthwhile read. I’ll have to search for it sometime!

      Like

  2. I would totally forgive Isabella. Initially, I hated her since the anime portray her as an evil and a heartless character. But then, I saw that backstory, and man, it surprised me in so many ways. Isabella became that one character who I hoped would be able to live a happy life as the story progress.

    That scene wrecked me and I have never felt so sorry for a anime character before in my life. I half expected it, that she must repay her sins and accept her fated responsibility. But I would still forgive Isabella, because she was merely living out of a sort of fear, afraid of being crushed like an insect.

    *P.S. I finished the manga and Isabella became my favorite side-character of all time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to decide whether to forgive her or not. Whether its out of fear, her actions were overboard in how evil and sinister her games were. But then again, she’s broken, and only seemed evil when pushed to her limits. But I too definitely hoped that Isabella would live a happy life. After all, she was never an evil person, but circumstances made her that way.

      Oh I’ve yet to finish the manga! I guess I can look forward to see how it wraps her character up haha.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! She can be both immoral and yet also be someone we feel like sympathising with. The show made her a character with varying levels of justification to her wickedness. I guess its entirely up to our own moral compass when it comes to deciding whether she deserves our sympathy or not haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! Depends on what we value the most. But we also do see Emma rejecting the opportunity of becoming a mom and she helps everyone escape. Isabella and Emma are directly opposed to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

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